English culture, myths and assignments

J van de Wetering, s1026220

Language in theory

The grammar translation theory.

When using the grammar translation theory pupils learn the English language the same way as they learn the classical languages. The important principles of the grammar translation theory are rules, conjugations and speech.

Pupils are asked to write down the terminology of grammar rules and memorize them. Students learn the grammar by linking the rules to grammar examples. Pupils have to improve their vocabulary by memorizing lists of words and communication is learned by writing essays (Quirke, 2014).

Audio lingual & structural situational

With the use, audio lingual and structural situational theory students had to figure out the grammar rules from examples that were given by the teacher. Student were not to think about grammar and all the theories behind it. The syllabuses where grammar based only and the least complex structures would be learned before the more complex structured. With this theory, students are treated like empty vessels that should be filled like empty water bottles  (Quirke, 2014).

Cognitive code

The cognitive code meant that teacher had to show rules and present grammar to students while they were in class. Errors that students made during class were not longer ignored and were seen as learning taking place.

Communicative language teaching

The communicative learning method had its focus on the student. Interaction with the student and humanistic values were important. Authentic materials were used and pupils their individual learning strategies were taken into account. Teacher began to question academics on the differences between conscious and unconscious as well as learning versus acquisition  (Quirke, 2014).

Case Theory

The most important principles of the case theory is the case filter. This meant that every sentence must have a case. The case theory was to make sure that noun phrases do not appear random in sentences.

An example

Mary Jeff hung a picture on the wall a poster.

The former sentence would be marked wrong; Mary and the poster violate the case filter. They violate the Case Filter, because they are not governed by any head, and therefore do not get abstract Case assigned to them.

Case theory states that a direct object cannot appear behind a passive verb.

*There was hit John.

John was hit. (Magnus, 1995)


Government Theory

The government theory insures that any rearrangements of argument structure the object and subjects will stay around the head of a sentence. This theory helps to keep sentences make sense when the structure is changed. English forms the passive by moving the object to the subject position.

A few examples using the government theory.

·         I was nearly convinced when Bill told me that Gracie hit John.
 I was nearly convinced when Bill told me that John was hit by Gracie. (object 'John' moved to subject position of 'hit')

·         vs. *John I was nearly convinced when Bill told me that Gracie was hit. ???

·         Or *I was nearly convinced John when Bill told me that Gracie was hit. ???

The government theory helps to construct correct sentences by the following example.

John and hit are linked when put in past sentence

Gracie hit John becomes John was hit by Gracie. (Magnus, 1995)

Personal experience

At secondary school, I did not get any English education. I did attend English class but English was never subject of the lessons the teacher gave. During the English class, the teacher would tell stories, in my native language, and by the time, his story-ended class was finished. Most of the knowledge I have gained in my second language are learned through self-study. If I were to categorise the lessons I have had while in class the theory used in class would come close to Audio lingual and structural situation.

The theory I used to get a better understanding of the grammar, pronunciation and sentence construction is cognitive code and if asked id use it for my pupils as well.  Pupils learn at different rates and have different errors in their language skills. Cognitive code allows a teacher to give his pupils the help they need in order to get the level of language they require.

Pupils who score better at translating words and sentences can start studying on grammar terminology. Noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, conjunction, preposition, interjection and article are hard to learn for pupils. If the words, sentences and grammar terminology are starting to kick in, we start on sentence construction, usually together with grammar terminology because it gives the chance to give the pupils examples. Starting pupils to learn the least complex parts of the English language and then moving on to complex parts of English language.





Grammar terminology

Parts of speech


Dutch counterparts


A noun is a naming word. It names a person, place, thing, idea, living creature, quality, or action.

Zelfstandig naamwoord


cowboy, theatre, box, thought, tree, kindness, arrival



A verb is a word that describes an action (doing something) or a state (being something).



walk, talk, think, believe, live, like, want



An adjective is a word that describes a noun. It tells you something about the noun.

Bijvoeglijk naamwoord


big, yellow, thin, amazing, beautiful, quick, important



An adverb is a word which usually describes a verb. It tells you how something is done. It may also tell you when or where something happened.



slowly, intelligently, well, yesterday, tomorrow, here, everywhere



A pronoun is used instead of a noun, to avoid repeating the noun.



I, you, he, she, it, we, they



A conjunction joins two words, phrases or sentences together.



but, so, and, because, or



A preposition usually comes before a noun, pronoun or noun phrase. It joins the noun to some other part of the sentence.



on, in, by, with, under, through, at



An interjection is an unusual kind of word, because it often stands alone. Interjections are words that express emotion or surprise, and exclamation marks usually follow them.



Ouch!, Hello!, Hurray!, Oh no!, Ha!



An article is used to introduce a noun.



the, a, an






Quirke, P. (2014, July 18). EFL History. Opgeroepen op July 18, 2014, van Philseflsupport: http://www.philseflsupport.com/efl_history.htm

Magnus, M. (1995). Description in Linguistic Theory. Opgeroepen op July 18, 2014, van Trismegistos: http://www.trismegistos.com/magicalletterpage/method/index.html#anchor5085287


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